What better way to help banish away those January winter blues than to air a documentary about…..potholes??? It has to be said that BBC1 do the first bit of this rather well what with their picturesque detective drama Death in Paradise. However, on Tuesday night with a documentary called Pothole Wars, ITV1 went for the more Ken Loach approach shall we say, i.e. working class realism.
In fairness to Pothole Wars, it was part serious and part funny. There were definite traces of a few David Brent’s in there. There were also traces of You’ve Been Framed. I can’t have been the only one can I, who found it amusing every time we saw a cyclist go careering through the air after going over a pothole?
In a night where my head was nearly exploding with a Brexit headache, Pothole Wars in some respects was just what the doctor had ordered. It was easy viewing stuff that did not require much concentration. Serious points were rightfully made though about the dismal state of our roads in the United Kingdom. Nevertheless, it was the humour in the show that made it more of a vehicle for some light relief.
Throughout this one hour long documentary, we got introduced to a whole series of pothole obsessed type people. The star of the show was ‘Mr Pothole’ himself, a mild-mannered gentleman and current mayor of Brackley, Mark Morrell. The programme described Mark as a ‘pothole vigilante’. Due to his campaigns and use of social media Mark boasted, ”I’ve had thousands of potholes repaired. The furthest away was in Tennessee. I’ve got a complete village resurfaced.”
Another interesting character(that’s one way of putting it) we met was seventy-seven year old, local Tory councillor Reg Winsor. In Reg’s spare time he actually went around filling up potholes. Devon County Council did not approve but as Reg told us, ”all I’m actually doing is a favour to the state free of charge.”
Other highlights included the dramatic build-up of tension as to whether or not Steadline would fill up all of their holes in time, to win another contract. The best anecdote though came from a likeable council pothole filler called Chutney, nicknamed so because he’s always getting himself in a right pickle. Away from the potholing repairs, he described how he loved growing award winning vegetables. Remarking upon a tattoo of his on his forearm he said, ”that is a tattoo of a gurt onion…..it’s a memory of my onions and that.”
All jokes aside, I loved the caring altruistic nature of this documentary, what with the likes of Mark, Reg and others doing their bit to help reduce road traffic accidents. I also liked how both roads in the north and the south of England were featured. Finally, it was narrated really well throughout by Sue Devaney.
It was not groundbreaking television and admittedly we have seen documentaries like this a zillion times before(namely because they’re cheap to make), however it was not too bad an effort overall as discussed. It was humorous but with a serious point at its core.
By the end of the programme, my Brexit headache had unbelievably gone can you believe? This is the power ladies and gentlemen of the British pothole, a dangerous but delightful distraction! 3/5.